Hassan Mohamed keen on leading Qatar's new generation
DOHA (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Hassan Mohamed started his FIBA Asia career as a bright-eyed 17-year-old, and he now finds himself as the de facto leader of Qatar's new generation of rising stars this year.
More popularly known as Mizo Amin, Hassan was Qatar's leading scorer in the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016, signaling how far he has come from his debut in the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup 2010.
"Personally, it is very exciting to go back and rekindle the memories of my first time participating in the FIBA Asia Cup back in 2010, which was also hosted in Lebanon," he said. "I was the youngest player on the team back then, at 17 years old, and I helped my team to finish third place by scoring the final free-throw against Philippines."
Back then, Hassan was a symbol of Qatar's promising future, but the tables have turned now as the 1.95m shooting guard is expected to be the national team's new leader for the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in August later this year. This is especially so after many of Qatar's veteran's have hung up their sneakers.
"A lot has happened in the past few years," he explained. "The national team has changed drastically from the departure of the coach, to the departure of many talented players such as Daoud Musa, Yaseen Musa, Hashim Zaidan, Baker Mohammed, Ali Turki, Saad Abdulrahman and Mohamed Saleem, as well as the import players Trey Johnson, Boney Watson and Jarvis Hayes."
Hassan is aware of his responsibility, and he knows that the challenges laid ahead of them are quite formidable, more so with both Australia and New Zealand coming into the fray.
"From my personal experience as player who participated at least 7 times in FIBA Asia Cup, I can assure you that Asian teams can get very competitive in this tournament even with the new teams from Oceania," he declared. "However, I do think that adding such great teams is going to uplift the competition to a whole new level."
Hassan scored 12.2 points per game in the FIBA Asia Challenge last year, and Al Annabi will need him to do that and more as he leads some of the country's best young talents this year. Many of them have already teamed up with Hassan representing the country, but they will certainly take on bigger roles in 2017, especially with Qatar hoping to jumpstart their chances to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.
"Though I am sad with the withdrawal of the experienced players I mentioned above, we still have a few other experienced players such as team captain Mohammed Yousuf, Erfan Ali, Khalid Suliman, Malek Saleem, Mansour Al-Hadari," he shared. "However, the newer generation of our national team is promising, and we expect the best performance from players like Abdulrahman Saad, Abdulrahman Yehia, Mohamed Abdulaziz and Abdulrahman Al-Muftah."
At the end of the day, all Hassan really hopes if for Qatar to rise through the Asian ranks again. They peaked in the early 2000s when they consistently placed among the continent's top five teams en route to qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006, but they have missed the Semi-Finals of every edition ever since.
"My earnest wish would be winning the FIBA Asia Cup 2017," he said. "To see our team rising to the top and getting stronger each year through having the right combination of chemistry and effective teamwork."
The star three-point shooter accepts his major role in this mission, and he also acknowledges how important it is for the team to have intense preparations in the run-up to this year's biggest basketball tournament in Asia.
"Persistent practice is key to reaching out goal," he added. "The FIBA Asia Cup is a tough competition that only continues to get stronger each time, but each time we come fully prepared."